Moral Jugdments and Knowledge about Felony Murder in Colorado: An Empirical Study

23 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2023

See all articles by Ian P. Farrell

Ian P. Farrell

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: September 5, 2023

Abstract

With funds provided by a Hughes Pilot grant, I conducted a survey of 523 Colorado residents to determine their knowledge of and moral attitudes towards the felony murder rule. The survey showed that only a very small fraction of the participants knew that unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies was murder punishable at the time by life without the possibility of parole. Similarly, only a very small fraction of survey participants believed that persons who committed unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies deserved a murder conviction or sentence of mandatory life without the possibility of parole. Rather, the mean sentence that survey participants considered just for felony murder was just over six years in prison. These results substantially undercut the two main justifications given for felony murder, namely deterrence and retribution.

Suggested Citation

Farrell, Ian P., Moral Jugdments and Knowledge about Felony Murder in Colorado: An Empirical Study (September 5, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4562486 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4562486

Ian P. Farrell (Contact Author)

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

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